Studying in another country is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture, even if just for a few months.
So which is the best way to learn the language while you’re there?
With a host family. Host families in Russia have become more popular in recent years leading to an increase in requests for them.
Here’s our advice for finding a host family during your time studying in Russia, what you need to do before you go, how to choose the right one, and other things to consider.
Why Stay with a Host Family?
Whether you’re doing an internship, a language course, or studying at a university, you’ll need somewhere to stay during your time in the Russian Federation. To fully immerse yourself in the language and culture, staying with a Russian-speaking family is a great idea. Your host family may include:
- Parents with kids
- Young couples
- Or flatmates
- Each host family situation is different
The biggest advantage of living in a host family is that you’ll get to practise your Russian every day.
The first step is administrative. Russian bureaucracy is famous for being far from simple so with a host family you might have some natives on your side to help you with the admin. Also, you won’t be alone.
Of course, that does mean you might have to adapt to your host’s lifestyle. If you’re a bit of a party animal, you might want to check what time your host family wants you home, especially if they have kids. You can also choose cheaper options where you won’t be provided with meals and have to cater for yourself.
Some host families will offer cheaper accommodation if you offer services like babysitting, cleaning, or English lessons, for example.
Host families are quite a flexible option and you don’t have to worry about finding a flat before you get there as agencies will often take care of things.
Let’s not forget that you also have a chance to make friends for life!
Things to Know before Staying with a Russian Host Family
Generally, host families are quite open-minded, which means that you can often count on them once you get to Russia. That said, don’t be put off if your first exchanges appear quite cold. Russians aren’t famous for being hugely expressive the first time they meet someone and the emotional restraint might seem a bit jarring at first.
Choose families according to your level of Russian. For example, if you’re completely new to Russian, you’ll want a host family that speaks a decent level of English. That said, very few do so it’s a great way to improve your Russian for free, though.
Did you know that Russia is one of the most popular countries in the world for host families?
It’s also recommended that you bring a welcome gift. This practice is very common in Russia and will be greatly appreciated by your hosts.
Good behaviour will go a long way to making your host family want to get to know you.
It’s also quite common for parents and children to sleep in the same room. This is a practice left over from the communist era where families lived in the same room. In some cases, it’s due to their economic situation.
It’s quite common for Russian families to get together to drink tea in an evening. By evening, we mean as late as 22:00 or 23:00! Even if the kids have school the following day, old and young Russians will be awake quite late. Spending time together is seen as essential. Don’t be shocked to see everyone in the kitchen late at night.
However, much like with any accommodation in Russia, you’ll need to prepare the worst and have insurance that provides repatriation.
The Best Sites for Finding Russian Host Families
So how do you find Russian host families?
Firstly, think about what you’re doing in Russia:
- Language exchange
- Foreign internship
- Working holiday
- Summer camps
- Planned trips
To make your choice, you might want to help pick a reputable host family as some people try and scam au-pairs and students. Some agencies and organisations can help you:
- Language schools
- Tour operators
- Professional training groups
A lot of these groups work with host families who can provide you with accommodation during your stay. Finding Russian towns with host families isn’t difficult.
It’s recommended that you sort out a host family ahead of time as you’ll also have all the administrative steps to go through which often requires an address in Russia. If you already have this, it makes things a lot easier. Similarly, there are a few steps they’ll have to take care of instead of you.
To register your arrival, the host family has to be the owner of the property where you’ll be staying, which is usually the case. Beware of sites or families who seem cagey about registering you.
Other Accommodation Options for Students in Russia
Discovering a new culture also involves seeing how they live and host families offer this opportunity. That said, there are other living arrangements where you can learn Russian and Cyrillic.
- University dormitories for foreign students.
- Sharing a flat with other ex-pats.
University accommodation is quite popular and you’ll probably be offered this option by the university where you’ll be studying. This is a good option if you’re on a budget as they cost between £90 and £200 for shared rooms, though there are restrictions. You won’t be entirely free but you will be in a multicultural environment.
Can you flatshare?
To live in a rented flat, a lot of the steps are the same except registration is more difficult. The university may refuse to register you if you’re not living on campus so you may need to be registered by the landlord or a private business for a cost of anything from £30 to £100. You can’t avoid this as it’s a legal requirement but the advantage is that you’ll be free to come and go when you please.
A host family is an excellent compromise between the strictness of university accommodation and the complexity of sorting out private accommodation.
Are you ready to find the perfect Russian host family?
If you are just starting to learn Russian or need to brush up before you go, consider getting private tuition from one of the many talented and experienced private tutors on Superprof!
When it comes to learning languages, you need to practise and having someone regularly teach you and allow you to use your new language is a great way to learn.
There are a few different ways to get private tutorials and each type of lesson comes with its pros and cons. It's usually up to you, how you like to learn, and your budget that will decide which tutorials are right for you.
Face-to-face tutorials are between you and the tutor and are tailored to you, what you want to learn, and how you like to learn. The tutor will put together lessons with you in mind and while usually the most costly version of tutorials available, they're also the most cost-effective as every minute of the tutorial is spent helping you to learn.
If you can't quite stretch the budget for face-to-face tutorials, group tutorials are a good option. While less one-on-one time with the tutor isn't ideal in other subjects, with languages, peer learning and practising in groups can also be beneficial. However, you won't have as much control over the course content.
Finally, you can broaden your search all over the world and look for tutors teaching online. As they don't have to travel, they'll usually charge less than face-to-face tutors and there's the bonus that they may be Russian native speakers or actually in Russia!
Don't forget that a lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free. Use this to try a few different tutors out before deciding which one is right for you and what you want to learn.